Before graduation day, the world is full of promise. You envision receiving your diploma and then stepping right into your dream job—one that pays you a lot to do what you love for a company you admire. However, many new grads are finding it harder than ever to make this dream a reality. A recent CNBC article suggests there are too many options for grads to choose from, and because they’re saddled with hefty student loan debt, they find themselves in a quarter-life crisis. This then leads them to take jobs that don’t align with their goals, abilities, or desires.
If you take whatever job comes your way, you can immediately generate income—but at the expense of your purpose and happiness. This decision can have long-lasting implications on your personal and professional futures. Nearly 51% of American workers are disengaged with their work. This lack of engagement can reduce your productivity, make you unpleasant to work with, and ultimately leave you unemployed. “To be fully engaged, people need vision, meaning, purpose, and resonant relationships,” writes Harvard Business Review’s Annie McKee. If you don’t have these things in your current job, you’ll eventually be forced to change your direction and pursue a career you truly care about. Why go through this exhaustive drama when you can just start now?
Don’t wait 10, 20, or even 30 years down the line to get back on track. Instead, follow a roadmap to success that puts your happiness, satisfaction, and engagement first. What roadmap? I'm so happy you asked...
Identify your strengths
Before you click on the first job description, you need a full understanding of what you bring to the table. You should only apply for positions that match your capabilities and in which you can contribute significant value. To direct your search, start by assessing your skills.
The Myers-Briggs type indicator, or MBTI, is one of the most popular assessments in the professional world. Forbes reports that nearly 4 million assessments are conducted every year. The MBTI is based on the theories of famed psychologist Carl Jung. The self-reported test measures your personality in four areas:
- Directing and receiving energy
- Taking in information
- Making decisions
- Approaching the outside world
Based on your responses, you’re classified as one of 16 different Myers-Briggs personality types. For example, you may be identified as an ISTJ (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). This personality type works hard, is trustworthy, analytical, and reserved. Knowing this helps you choose jobs that will put your strengths to great use. An ISTJ could be great in positions that require a lot of initiative and self-guided projects. However, leading a group or hosting meetings on a daily basis may not be a good fit.
Knowing your Myers-Briggs personality type will also help you once you’ve found a job. You’ll understand where you fit in on teams big and small, how you like to communicate, how you like to be motivated, and how you respond to conflict.
Understand the required skills
So, you’ve found a job that piques your interest—an SEO Manager at a startup. Before you update your resume or construct your cover letter, you need a better understanding of the skills this job requires. Job Experience happens to be the perfect online resource to gain access to professionals working in your desired field. For each role, you can learn about the pros and cons of the position directly from someone who’s doing the job.
For SEO, you could explore Aaron’s story. He’s an SEO expert who’s worked in the field for 7 years. You can learn about his career path (he started in marketing), the hard and soft skills he uses every day (Google Search Algorithms and Excel), his work/life balance, and his pay. You can even score free advice to aid your job search.
Job Experience essentially works as a mentor or a friend, offering you inside info so you can see the big picture before you press send on your application.
Your research doesn’t stop there. Head to Wikipedia to learn more about your industry and round out your knowledge. When you search SEO, you’ll find a thorough explanation of the term’s history and importance. However, you’ll also notice it’s part of a series on Internet marketing, which includes links to related industry terms like content marketing, native advertising, affiliate marketing, and display advertising. Even if you’re interested in the SEO manager role, you may find your skills are better suited for another avenue within the same job space.
Find out who’s hiring
Part of your research should also include details about the company. Which companies are hiring SEO experts, which fields are they concentrated in, and what are they looking for? You can learn about these companies through LinkedIn or Indeed. View company profiles to find out what their specialties are, how long they’ve been in business, and how many employees work there. Through LinkedIn, you can even connect with current employees to learn more. You can also apply directly to jobs using your profile on each site, so be sure to keep your work history and information up to date.
Both sites have thousands of listings. For instance, a worldwide LinkedIn search for “SEO Manager” returns 2,500 results. But from there, you can narrow down the options by location and then further based on your MBTI results and personal preferences.
Go for it
While it’s important to have a full understanding of what you’re signing up for, the most important step is to apply. You’ve found something that excites you. Go for it!
For recent grads, and even those a few years removed from college, job pursuits are often clouded by factors that have nothing to do with personal happiness. They’re chasing a high salary, a prestigious title, and a blueprint created by someone else. Don’t get stuck in this trap. Regardless of your interests or where you decide to work, remember to do what you love. When it’s all said and done, don’t forget to have fun.